Photo: Blackberry and Raspberry poptarts, fresh out of the oven this morning. Because if I’m going to be teacher-helper at school, I’m going to rock it out. They were legit delicious and you should totally make them.
It’s a funny thing. I knew that I was going to write about Father’s departure today when I read my friend Sheri’s post about the 5 Love Languages and how she shows her love for others. What I didn’t know is that I would be in contact with my Father every single day this week. Suddenly, my Father is full of questions and he must seek my advice/expertise for his big sparkling new adventure. I’d otherwise talk to him once a month (on my initiation. Never his.), but here I am on the receiving end of things for once. It’s hilarious.
No, no. Don’t be a Millennial about this, Kyra. It’s hilarious.
This was the fun phone call yesterday:
Father: We’ve been working on your grandmother’s house. It’s going to be a tight schedule to get it all fixed up. But it’s going to be really nice when you come down to visit it.
Me, hesitating: I mean, I don’t really know when that is going to be, Father.
Father: Aren’t you going to come down for the reunion in July?
Me: I mean, I don’t know. I’m doing this drive next week for Mom’s people, and making that 8 hour drive with two babies twice in one summer is a lot. I’m working on it, but I’m asking a lot out of my babies and my husband…
Father: I totally understand. I’m not going to make you come down here. Because you can’t make me go up there, because I don’t want to do that drive!
Me: That’s cool…
I want to be furious. It’s so maddening to hear him say stuff like this. Every time we drive to Maryland, it’s 8 hours just to get to my in-laws house and then we usually get up another day during our visit to drive an additional 2 hours into suburban Virginia to see Father. Every 6 months. 10 hours of driving with 2 babies just to see him. Only once has he driven up into Maryland so that we could meet at a restaurant, saving me some gas and the headache of more driving. In the 8 years that I’ve been here in Massachusetts, Father has visited twice. I want to scream this at him, about the inequity of it, but I know that it won’t move him.
And I know that I do all of this work to maintain this relationship because I feel a sense of duty to do so. This is my Father and I love him despite everything that he is.
I’ve been admonishing myself all week about writing about this. I keep telling myself that my Father’s move is not about me. He’s a grown man, he has a family, this is his life, and he should live it. I haven’t been his responsibility in a long while. His life hasn’t revolved around mine for a very long while.
That is when the clearest thought of my week came: His life has never really about me. Ever. Or my sister. He life before these past few weeks has really never mattered to him. Here and now, right now, is the life that he’s always wanted. Where I see duty to maintain this connection, I think he sees nothing at all.
And all of that brings me back to Sheri’s post and the way we show our love for others. Sheri made reference to the 5 Love Languages, and how she expresses love best through acts of service and kindness for others. I’ve been on the receiving end of these kindnesses, and I’m always so grateful because everything she does is amazing and inspirational. When I saw her post, I thought I’d take the online quiz because I totally knew I was going to get the same thing. There are a lot of problematic things going on over on that site, which is clearly trying to sell Christian-based marriage advice, so click the link at your own peril. I guessed my “my primary” language right: Service to others is my big way to show love. But my secondary language surprised me: Physical Touch.
“…A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.”
I love to get and give hugs. I’ve been told on multiple occasions that I give good hugs. That physical connection is such a wonderful thing, and it means so much for different reasons. But when I read this, I read beyond the literal physical connection with another person and thought instead about the physical presence of people in my life. I think that I’ve been mourning the physical presence of my father in my life (beyond the phone calls I choose to make and the visits that I arrange) for a very long time. And now, with mom’s move impending, I’m already mourning her physical presence in my life as well. Not because I need to see them every day or every week, even, but because the separation of upwards of 8 hours or the enormity of an ocean and a continent is overwhelming for me.
I love doing things for others. Baking treats for friends and relatives, lending a hand to another overwhelmed mom, tidying up at Mom’s during a more stressful period, picking up stuff at the grocery store or sharing a recipe with others… I spend a lot of time performing duties for others because it’s the best way that I know how to express my love. And if I can do something a little fancy, a little special, and bring a little bit of relief or joy, I could not be more pleased. And I’m so grateful when that sort of thing is returned. At this point in my life, I’d take an afternoon of babysitting over any trinket, cheap or expensive. I wonder, a little bit, if that has grown out of the physical and emotional distance that I’m feeling from my parents? My Quiet Thoughts center about what my current feelings right now mean for how I parent now and into the future. I suppose I’m wondering if my actions as an adult with grown children will matter in the future?
I’m sorry to write about this. I am. I do feel like the whiney girl in college with daddy issues. The emotions are still really raw, and I know that by the time I’m getting used to it, he’ll be getting on a plane and it’ll be raw all over again. Please be patient with me. I’ll get it sorted out in my head soon.
How do you show love for friends and family? For humanity, even, if you’re a big-picture person? How do you like love shown to you?
It is the first Friday of June, and you are here, and you are loved. You made it, dear reader, and I celebrate you. I wish you a cold glass of lemonade this weekend, made with love and care and not too much sugar. I wish you a mojito made with the same care, but with a little extra rum. I wish you an open flame, a found stick, and a marshmallow charring and melting at the same time. I wish you a nice new pedicure with a surprising and fun color, something spontaneously chosen and out of your comfort palette. I wish you and hand leisurely resting on yours, or holding on softly and swinging as you walk down the street. I wish you brunch outside on a busy sidewalk, watching people go by. I wish you a stolen glance, a secret smile, the chance encounter with a person who takes your breath away. And, as always, I wish you joy.
Until Monday, take care.